April 24, 2014

Homework Help: child development

Posted by scooby on Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 6:34pm.

• Compose a 1,400- to 1,700-word paper analyzing the information processing theory.

o Identify the components of the information processing theory described in the text.
o Define the components and their functions.
o Summarize the interrelationship among the components and explain what is needed to move information through the model.
o Explain how a child processes information and how the process changes as the child grows older.
Explain whether you believe environment and heredity influence intelligence and information processing

this is what i found.....

Information processing theory provides a window into the way people learn. It examines the ways our mind processes incoming sensory information, the way it is processed and moved first into working memory and then into long-term memory. It also looks at the way each of these component parts and the processing system linking them improves with time. Practical application of information processing theory can lead to more effective ways of teaching, with children better able to retain and process information and integrate it into their knowledge base so it can be effectively reused in the future.
Components of the Mind’s Cognitive Process
The most basic part of information processing theory examines the way our mind absorbs, processes, and retains information. Research indicates that this consists of three basic parts and a central executive which controls the information flow among them. The three parts are the sensory register, working memory, and long-term memory. (McDevitt, 188)
Little is known about the sensory register, but it is believed that it holds raw sensory data for very brief periods. It is likely that it gathers virtually all the raw data from the different senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. The sheer amount of this information explains why the register holds it for such a brief period. Its existence is also explained by the amount of information. Even the simplest event is not recorded in all its fidelity, and the brain requires some time to strip down the information to the portions necessary for the task at hand. (McDevitt, 187)
For example, as I sit here typing this, my brain is absorbing a wide variety of stimuli, including the words on the page, the sensation of my fingers on the keyboard, the sound of the refrigerator running, the temperature in the room, etc. But because of the task at hand, the only sensations getting imported into working memory - the only ones I am actually actively processing and considering – are those relating to the writing of the paper. Should one sense become particularly stimulated, my brain may recognize the need to shift focus and import different information. If the temperature were to drop significantly or the refrigerator started making a particularly loud noise, this might motivate a shift in attention. My brain might recognize that a different stimulus takes priority over my current focus and needs to be moved into working memory so I can deal with it.
This function – the prioritization of information – is performed by the central executive, a process of the mind that regulates the flow of information. It decides which information makes it from the high-fidelity sensory register to the working memory. It also regulates what moves from the working memory to the long-term memory for indefinite storage and what is retrieved from the long-term memory for reprocessing in the working memory. The central executive’s ability to shuttle information in and out of working memory is influenced by a number of factors, primarily our ability to focus and pay attention. The ability to integrate information into long-term memory and retrieve information from it is more complex and a matter of some debate, with some experts believing that mere repetition or rehearsal is sufficient, while others believe integrating it with already-familiar concepts is important. (McDevitt, 187-88)
We can envision this prioritization and flow by considering a simple situation. If we are trying to solve a physics problem, we would probably first read it on the page. Assuming we are able to focus (if there isn’t loud music playing, the temperature is reasonable, we aren’t too hungry or tired, etc.), then the words of the problem will be imported into our memory. As we read it, different concepts might be imported from long-term memory. This can include similar problems that we’ve worked in the past or personal experiences where we’ve seen the physics principle at work (a falling object, a car in motion, a see-saw.) As we continue to read, the central executive will selectively add to and remove from our working memory as it gets filled and some concepts become less important. By the time we are ready to solve the problem, we’ve likely forgotten its exact words. We might retain only a shorthand summary of what’s happening, some sort of visualization of the situation, and the numbers and equations necessary to solve it.
The reason the central executive needs to move information into and out of working memory is because its capacity is limited. Estimates vary, but in-depth information is probably only retained for 20 to 30 seconds unless we continue to actively process it. This is our brain’s notepad, the place we use to collect, shuffle, and work with information. Information comes into the working memory from both directions: from the sensory register where new information is collected all the time, and from the long-term memory where old but still potentially useful information is kept for later use. The central executive regulates this flow, adding or retrieving necessary information, storing potentially useful information in the long-term memory, and discarding the rest. The working memory’s size is small enough that even a long-division problem becomes difficult for most prople to do in their heads…they will either require a long time, carefully working through the steps and retaining and repeating the results while they keep going, or they’ll give up and use a sheet of paper (or a calculator!)
The long-term memory is more complex, and the way it works can be mysterious. Its capacity seems to be nearly unlimited, or at least large enough to store a lifetime worth of memories. In addition to storing the information, it is likely that it organizes it in some way, linking it to other memories and processes such that the central executive can more efficiently retrieve the information later. Each memory might be linked to a whole variety of other elements: other things that happened the same day, similar expericnces, things that evoked similar memories, or anything else that might make them useful in the future. (McDevitt, 187-88)
Evolution of Children’s Capabilities
The key to using information processing theory to improve education is understanding precisely how each of these components change as the individual develop. The sensory register (or at least the senses connected to it) become more acute (at least until old age.) The central executive becomes more efficient at focusing the mind, processing information, suppressing irrelevant thoughts, and retrieving appropriate information from long-term memory. The working memory becomes larger, more capable of holding different types of information, and able to automate certain tasks. Finally, the long-term memory refines the connections between existing memories and tacks on new ones with appropriate links.
The senses becomes more acute with time. Though newborns can discriminate among tastes, smells, and sounds and perceive certain qualities of these things, like the direction of a sound source, other senses don’t develop until later. For example, vision is roughly 20/600 at birth, develops to around 20/80 by 8 months of age, and eventually becomes the standard 20/20 (well, for some people.) However, because the structure of the visual cortex in the brain develops until roughly preschool age, perception of visual information is probably different before that time. (McDevitt, 189)
The central executive’s ability to process information gets more powerful and refined with time. For example, children quickly gain the ability to distinguish between people and inanimate objects and differentiate between most people and their primary caretakers. The mind’s ability to marginalize distractions and focus on tasks increases. Attention also becomes more keyed to the task at hand. When we are focusing on a specific task, information that is generally irrelevant is marginalized (the humming of lights, for instance), but so is information that might otherwise be useful (the news on the TV playing in the background.) (McDevitt, 191-92)
Working memory also improves with time, with processing speed increasing and becoming more useful, certain tasks becoming automatic, and the physical capacity growing. Processing speed is the simple raw ability to shuffle and rearrange information and in addition to its natural growth, the brain finds shortcuts, like leaning how to add instead of merely count all the sets of two groups. Automation also makes memory more efficient. A common military movie image is breaking down and cleaning rifles. This is because members of the military do just that, practicing the task until it becomes rote. (McDevitt, 193-94)
Application of Information Processing Theory to Learning
All of these understandings of the mind’s capabilities and their evolution can be used to enhance the learning process. This includes both general recommendations based on understanding of the process and age-specific recommendations. General recommendations include the minimization of distractions to improve ability to focus, helping children to automatize skills, beginning at a level consistent with children’s knowledge, taking into account cultural differences, and asking children to integrate new material with familiar contexts. (McDevitt, 199) Age-specific recommendations include modeling more concrete concepts at younger ages and increasing use of symbols and theoretical concepts as children age. (McDevitt, 212-13.
All of this should demonstrate that heredity and experience influence intelligence and information processing. It is clear that raw abilities influence sensation and the ability to process information. Meanwhile, environment influences the knowledge base from which individuals can work. Experiences are integrated with cultural understandings, familiar contexts, and anything else that forms a connection.
Information processing theory provides a window into thinking and learning. It examines the flow, processing, and recall of information. It also at how these parts and the central executive knitting them together work better as we develop. Practical application of this theory can lead to more effective ways of teaching, with children better able to retain and process information and integrate it into their knowledge base so it can be effectively reused in the future

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